During October, 1996 my life was quite fun and exciting, but also very dark. What I'm trying to say is that I was living life in what some would call the "fast lane". My daily routine consisted with trying to make a "come up"; in those streets and get paid. Now, I do feel like I'm a pretty intelligent guy so I did have a little part time gig at U-Haul to keep some balance and prevent my folks from sweating me too much. I'm not proud to say this, but I had my hands in all kinds of illegal schemes. At that time, I was living life day to day, not setting any real long-term worth while goals and just going through the motions, not to mention becoming a dad at the beginning of the year. I don't want to make it seem like I was just a super "bad guy" because that's not the fact at all. My outlook on life had just been altered from things righteous to, I guess, unrighteous.
I grew up with both my parents in a pretty healthy environment. My folks had me when they were young, so I too experienced some things not necessarily good for a kid, but over all I never wanted for nothing and grew up with lots of love and support. I had loving grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, etc. One may not understand how with such a decent foundation in life someone can take the wrong path, but unfortunately I did.
Well, like I said previously, modestly speaking, I've always been a pretty smart guy. Without a whole lot of effort I achieved mostly good grades in school. Furthermore, I did graduate from U. City and attended Central Missouri State University for a year. I prided myself on being a leader and not a follower. I was very good in sports and was well liked by most. I played JFL football, basketball and my pops coached my baseball team from the age of 6 to 14; until all of us were freshmen and started playing for the high school. To say the least, sports was my first love.
Once I got to high school, various things began distracting me from my sports. Females, alcohol, and weed are what I'm speaking of. I still balled, but the focus wasn't fully blurred. For those who wouldn't understand, this is when and how things altered in my life. You can say would've, could've, should've, but this is how I and lots of folks felt about our younger years.
Anyway, back to 1996. The life I was living at the time I got shot was not real good in spite of my past. As a result, I had a random verbal altercation which changed my life drastically to where I am today.
From the obvious of not being able to breathe on my own, and not being able to move my arms or walk, there are many other issues I go through on a daily basis. Nevertheless, with God's love, family support, my son's inspiration, and a will to beat this situation, I'm pressing on to overcome the odds stacked against a guy like me.
Without a shadow of a doubt, if I could change my situation, I would. However, I feel like what happened in October 26, 1996 either helped keep me out of prison, or enter an early grave, or both! As a result, I am a better person at the present despite living with a disability. I now have focus on my life and the will to accomplish what I set out to do.
This is why I decided to form the Brother's Keeper SCI support group. Our vision is to help other young men and women cope with their spinal cord injury and overcome the mindset of thinking their life is over because that is simply not true. My hope is that Brother's Keeper s.c.i will touch the future generations about the pitfalls of violence and a criminal lifestyle and the negative results that can and do come with this path. Personally, turning a negative into a positive and helping others is what it's all about.
April 24th, 1990 was like any other day. Being 18, my main concerns were having fun and hanging out. It never crossed my mind that my life was heading for a drastic change.
Like any normal night I got dressed to go out with my cousin. We decided to go skating at our favorite hang out spot. Once it closed, we headed to another well-known area where teens hung out to talk, play music and holler at girls. In the midst of hanging out, a fight broke out. My cousin and I jumped in my car to leave. As I began to drive off, I heard a bang and by the next bang the bullet had already traveled through my rear window, entering my head rest and lodge in my back. Immediately my legs drew up and hit my steering wheel. I lost total control of my car and slammed into another parked vehicle. By the time I arrived at the hospital I was told that I was DOA. But with the grace of God and prayer from family and friends, I pulled through.
After being hospitalized for two weeks, I was transferred to a rehabilitation center. The therapy I received following my injury was Occupational and Physical Therapy. My Occupational Therapy helped with my hand and finger dexterity, adaptive techniques for grooming, dressing, and upper body strength. My Physical Therapy helped me learn to balance, bed mobility, transferring, and range of motion.
I am currently employed at United Access, a company that modifies vehicles for people with disabilities. I really enjoy working there and I can’t even think or working anywhere else because the work is so rewarding.
Following my injury, I felt a special connection to others with spinal cord injuries. After working out at the hospital, I would go talk to new spinal cord injury patients. Eventually, this led up to Brandon and me meeting in 1997 at a theater. We began talking about this and that, exchanged phone numbers and our friendship blossomed from there. We both discussed a need to encourage other individuals with spinal cord injuires similar to ours and that’s how Brother’s Keeper SCI was formed.